Troop Past

Here's a little history of our troop, with some pictures as well.

Off to a Good Start

Our Troop was formed in 1937 by the joint efforts of Ruth Rovery, a lady at Galilee Baptist Church, and Reverend R.G.Lee of Bellevue Baptist Church. The troop was given a 1-year probationary period, and became a permanent fixture of Galilee Baptist in 1938.

(Several years later Galilee Church moved and became Broadway Baptist Church, and the troop moved with it.)

185 Boys have become Eagle in our troop, including a Scout who is blind, one with Muscular Dystrophy, and one with Prader-Willi Syndrome.

Several families have had second-generation Eagles in our Troop.
One Family, the Rovery's, have had Third Generation Eagles in our Troop.
(Leonard Rovery Sr, and Leonard Rovery, Jr. received their Eagles on the same day. Daniel Taylor and Britt Taylor received their Eagles many years later.)

The troop was led from the beginning by Buddy Irwin, a 20-year old Eagle Scout. Buddy had a mission to pay back the debt he owed to Scouting.

They had some trouble getting the kids from church to join due to the prevalence of programs such as RAs and GAs. So Rev Lee suggested they go and recruit boys from the neighborhoods, and that is exactly what Buddy did. He went into all the surrounding neighborhoods inviting all the boys to come to scouts.

Buddy knew that the troop was an 'outreach' ministry of the church. Many of the boys in the troop had never been inside a church. But God was very much a part of the activities of our troop. Every meeting began and ended with prayer, and the troop chaplain was required to read a passage of scripture during the meeting. On camping trips, Buddy would pull the bus over to the side of the road on Sunday morning, and the troop would erect a wooden cross there, and the boys would listen while Buddy read from God's holy word.

It wasn't long before the word got around that something was going on in this troop. By 1946 there were over 200 boys in the troop, and Buddy was forced to split the troop into two 'virtual' troops (each with it's own scoutmaster, adult staff, and youth staff).

A Rich History

Here are some pictures of the Troop heading to the 1953 National Jamboree. The group pictures are 'clickable' so you can get a full-sized copy.
(Courtesy of Jack Willcox)
Here they are getting ready to depart on a bus for the 1953 Jamboree...

Here is a news clipping of them about to depart for California...
Jamboree Departure News Clipping
Here they are at the Jamboree.

And again, here...

...and here's the patch they earned for going!

Buddy also designed a card for the troop, the credit-card below.

Here is a news clipping of them at the jamboree.
Jamboree News Clipping

Buddy couldn't stand telling any boy he couldn't come along and join the troop, but the other leaders prevailed upon him to put a cap on the number of boys in the troop.

Eventually the numbers dwindled down a bit. By 1967 the number of boys in the troop was around 125, with a waiting list to join. This number was the maximum allowed, two full busloads of kids.

Many times, Buddy's talents at fund-raising and recruitment helped move the troop past serious roadblocks in its development. Using local donations and newspaper sales by the boys, the troop was able to aquire a bus, the 'Swamp Fox', which helped transport our large troop to camp.

Once an ad showed up in the paper wanting help delivering phone books to a city across the Mississippi River from us, and Buddy was quick to accept the position. The scouts in the troop delivered all the phonebooks, over 10,000 of them, on weekends over one summer, and raised enough money to buy 12 Grumman(R) canoes and trailers to transport them.

The Mid-South Fair - Our Annual Fundraiser

In 1976 Buddy acquired a small trailer with a kitchen and counter to use at the midsouth Fair as a Food booth. With the help of the parents of the scouts, he manned the booth during the 10 days of the fair and brought in enough profits that year to fund the troop for the year.

That original booth was built of 4-foot sections which bolted together to form a 16-foot temporary building. The booth sold southern-cooked food: cornbread, red beans and rice, and white bean soup. And they sold like hotcakes.

Gone were any thoughts of selling Screwdrivers, flower seeds, lightbulbs, popcorn, and the like. The troop was now funded by a 2-week activity of selling southern-cooked food at the Mid-South Fair. Chili, Cheese Soup, and Chili-tos (Bags of Fritos(tm) with Chili spread over them) were added later, until now there are over 30 items on the booth menu, all made from scratch by the parents of the boys. (Except for the Sweet Potato Pies, that are ALL donated by a local restaraunteer who prefers to remain anonymous).

Buddy took a 55-gallon drum and used it, a water pump, and two millstones, to make a water-driven grist mill. The water-driven mill sprayed water on people who were coming up to purchase our cornbread, so he went to a gas-powered model a few years later.

Here is a recent video created by Todd Rooks, another Eagle from 97 (1982) depicting the 'feel' of the Mid-South Fair.
Small Fair Video
(You will probably need Quicktime to view this movie, you can get it at

The Passing of a Legend

Buddy was a dreamer and had many dreams concerning the direction Scouting and the troop were going. When our church moved down into Mississippi from Memphis, Tennessee, he drew up plans for a meeting building for the troop that would also serve as missionary temporary housing during visits to our church. He also dreamed about topping 200 Eagles on the list. Unfortunately, he died before he saw either of these dreams come to fruition.

In 1989, Buddy Irwin went home to be with the Lord, leaving some big shoes to fill. His funeral was preached by John Webb, a scout in the troop who surrendered to the ministry while on one of the camping trips.

Those shoes were filled by lifetime Scouter and close friend, Bill Dixon. Bill at the time was Advancement Chairman for the troop. He had previously been Scoutmaster of Troop 3, which was established around the same time as Troop 97.

Bill's sons, Doug and Mike, had made Eagle in 97 in 1973 and 1975, respectively. Bill is an incredible naturalist, and can tell more than a hundred species of trees and plants during the winter when there aren't any leaves, simply by the way the limbs grow and the way the bark looks.

Bill retired from the troop in 1998, but is now actively involved at age 82 in leading another troop.

The troop was then commanded by Redigo Phillips, an Eagle scout with a boy headed into the Troop. Redigo is an auditor for the IRS, and an accomplished photographer. Redigo led the troop for 5 years until demands at work curtailed his ability to lead the troop.

The troop is currently led by Mark Stroud, a graphic artist for a local printing company. Mark also runs the sound and video for our Church.

True Stories of Scouts in Action

In the past years TWO of our scouts have received the Medal of Merit, for saving the life of a relative. See their stories here and here.

©2006 Troop 97 - All Rights Reserved
Last Updated